SPORT TIME: what the Olympics can do for even sport haters

It’s been a while since we’ve had a sport post but the riots over the last few days have made Britain re-evaluate its society and what kind of picture of London this shows the world. In this guest post Paul looks at what the Olympics can do not only for our economy and sportsmen but also what it means for us personally, not matter where you were born.

“I always turn to the sport pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures” -unknown

It’s been a week of turbulence and tragedy. The country has been left in shock from the rioting that has spread over the last five days. But, I’m not going to talk about that. I want to talk about something positive. I want to talk about the Olympic Games that’ll be taking place in Britain this time next year.

The Olympics isn't just for sport fans

The games have been a long time coming now. The expectation has been rising for years, and rightly so. This is a once in a generation event where the whole world will gather in the UK to see some of the most extraordinary people attempt the most amazing human accomplishments of strength, speed, endurance and skill.

As you can tell, I am very excited. I’m a massive sports fan; however, I’m absolutely convinced that the Olympics can appeal to everyone. I urge everybody to watch the opening ceremony, to see the pride on the faces of athletes representing their countries, whether they’re American or Nigerian or Russian or French or Tongan. I also urge you to attempt and watch some of the actual competition. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t imagine anything more inspirational than watching people from all walks of life push themselves to their very limits for an extra inch or for one less second. Whether you are athletic or not this is something you can’t help but admire.

The greatest thing about the games, however, is what it stands for. It isn’t just about people throwing sticks and running very fast. To me the Olympics is about peace, co-operation and equality. There are few things the whole world comes together for and the Olympics manages it every four years in the spirit of friendly competition. Competitors fight to beat each other, but when it’s all over you see them embrace each other as friends and are able to acknowledge the great performances by their competitors. It’s a spirit we should all come to respect and emulate.

Even after over a hundred years of the modern Olympic Games there is still so much that it can do to inspire the world.

A holiday even you can afford!

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I had been on holiday.

Outside St.David's cathedral- they always pose like that

When I told people I was going on holiday, they assumed I must be going abroad, but I didn’t, I went to a costal county of Wales called Pembrokeshire. More specifically I went to a little town called Broad Haven. Since the recession, magazines and newspapers inform me that staycations are becoming more and more popular. It’s a cheaper holiday, arguably ethical (helping the local economy), but it is also a lot of fun. My experience taught me that you can have a great holiday without spending a lot of money.

My friends and I stayed in a self-catering lodge which had a beautiful scenic view and a veranda, a lake for fishing, a child’s play area (my boyfriend loves rope swings)  and big open grassy space to play in. The boys went fishing a lot, we had a bbq and sunbathed on the veranda, we had rugby golf on the common land, played murder mystery in our lodge, and each night we took it in turns to make very nice dinners. We managed to do all of this for no extra cost to our accommodation. As we went out of peak time we had the lodge for a very cheap price, but even if we had gone during the school holidays it still would have been an absolute steal. Having a self-catering lodge meant that we didn’t have to spend lots of money on eating out, and as we each only cooked one night, everyone made a big effort, it was like having a dinner party every evening, and much cheaper than having dinner in a restaurant. Lodges, B+Bs, and family run hotels are sometimes not much more expensive than camping or caravanning so it’s worth looking around, especially if you are not the sort of person who appreciates living in the great outdoors.

This sunset was free

Once you pay for accommodation then you don’t need to spend loads of money on day trips, you can go to the beach, to parks, go on costal or countryside walks, all for free. A lot of the attractions (museums especially) in Wales are free so we didn’t have to pay many entry fees, we might even have spent less while we were away than we would have in a usual week. If you have a family (entry fees get pretty expensive when you’re paying for four) or are really strapped for cash then visiting these attractions would be perfect.

One evening we played murder mystery

We were pretty lucky with the weather but on a rainy day we went to Pemberton Chocolate Farm because it was indoors, the tour would have been £4.50 but we skipped that and paid 50p to design our own chocolate and then looked around the free museum and cinema. Other rainy days we stayed in doors to play games (Twister was lots of fun) and watch movies, so weather shouldn’t put you off of holidaying in the UK. Don’t underestimate how relaxing it can be not to have to work through your to-do list every day, you can just read a novel or magazine without having to worry what you should be doing around the house or running errands.

We might have bought a treat in the chocolate shop...

We did take a day trip to St.David’s, the cathedral didn’t charge to go in but just took donations. It was a really sunny day so we got chips and ate out in the sun, but for a cheaper alternative you could take your own picnic, especially as you won’t feel bad buying an ice cream then! Just looking around the city and visiting the galleries was a fun day, you don’t always need to go shopping. My boyfriend and I collect postcards and fridge magnets where ever we go, it’s a cheap way to buy souvenirs that will mean we remember our holidays. Instead of spending a lot of money on buying gifts for every man and his dog, it’s much more personal to pick out postcards you think the each person will like and send them a little message while you’re away.

If you were feeling crappy that you’re not going to have a holiday this summer, I hope this post inspires you to do a bit of research to see if you can change that. If you really can’t afford to go away though, I am also going to attempt being a tourist in my own city so watch out for posts about that. And, of course, I would love to hear all about the staycations you have planned or have been on. Happy holidaying!